As the realignment roller coaster heats up in college football and transfers move all over college basketball, BYU sports experts Darnell Dickson and Jared Lloyd address five of the biggest questions about Cougar athletics in this moment :
1. What is the impact of the revelations about USC and UCLA set to join the Big 10 in 2024?
Dickson: Dude, where to start? The thing about realignment is there’s a huge domino effect when teams start skipping conferences. Action/reaction, right? BYU is in a better place right now due to its impending move to the Big 12 in 2023, but I wouldn’t call it “comfortable.” The Big 12 is trying to stay relevant, but the SEC and the Big Ten are trying to grab all the top college sports programs for themselves before new TV deals are negotiated. If the Big 12 is aggressive, it could attack the best remaining teams in the Pac-12 and BYU could once again be a conference teammate with Utah. The worst thing that can happen is for the SEC and Big Ten to form their own 20-team conferences, possibly leaving BYU in the second tier. The Cougars would be thinking, “We just got out of the second tier, right?” The options are pretty much endless as rumors fly and sporting departments start looking for the No. 1.
LLOYD: In some ways, I think BYU is in a much better position right now than any non-Big 10/SEC program — although that might seem counterintuitive. But think about how Cougar Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe had to work with so many different institutions over the past decade, always trying to figure out what the opportunities were. Unlike other schools that felt relatively comfortable in their “Power 5” leagues, BYU played its own game as it worked hard to stay relevant. And the reality is that he succeeded. The Cougars were clearly evident when the Big 12 felt like they needed to expand, because not only do they have a national fanbase, they get good TV ratings and they’ve won enough to be on the college football radar. I agree with Darnell that BYU shouldn’t be comfortable, but I think Holmoe and the Cougars will be able to weather the winds of change better than many programs.
2. What should BYU’s new conference, the Big 12, do in response?
LLOYD: Would you like to be the new Big 12 commissioner, Brett Yormark? The 55-year-old chief operating officer of Jay-Z’s talent agency Roc Nation was officially named Bob Bowlsby’s successor on Tuesday and on Thursday the world of college athletics was hit by another hurricane – and it will be on his shoulders to make huge decisions. Welcome to work, Brett. The Big 12 had to roll the dice after Texas and Oklahoma opted to join the SEC and in doing so could have made things more difficult in a Pac-12 conference (10?) Who now stands in a similar situation. Will he go all out trying to poach big name programs like Oregon, Washington, Clemson, Florida State or Miami? Is he just looking to expand west with teams closer to the footprint of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State? The easy answer is to swing for the fences, but the Pac-12 tried over a decade ago and it failed miserably (although it turned out to be a good thing for Utah). The Big 12 has to be smart, but they also have to realistically realize that there are a lot of things they can’t control.
Dickson: Develop, develop, develop. With USC and UCLA reportedly leaving the Pac-12, ten more teams are wondering what to do next. The Big 12 was already going to be a 16-team conference in 2023 (unless Texas and Oklahoma find a way to leave early for the SEC) and exploring other options seems prudent. The effect of expansion and realignment on all other sports is monumental, but football makes all the decisions. I imagine there are a lot of nervous college coaches all over the country right now.
3. What do you think are the odds that BYU and Utah will be back in the same conference?
Dickson: Odds? Difficult to calculate the odds when the rules change every five minutes. That’s what the expansion of the conference is all about: Chaos. Geographically, it makes sense for BYU and Utah to be in the same conference, but we left the logic in the rearview mirror a long time ago. College sports are driven by money, money and money, not logic. We’ve lost a lot of rivalries in college football because of the realignment and that’s not good for the sport.
LLOYD: Wouldn’t that be ironic? After all those years of Ute fans smugly proclaiming the superlatives of being in the Pac-12 while BYU was independent, it might be a hard pill for them to swallow to find out that Utah was going to the Big 12 with the Cougars (where BYU was being asked to replace USC/UCLA as the Pac-12 seeks to remain viable). But I just don’t know if Utah or BYU are big enough brands to get the coveted Big 10 or SEC invitations — and every other conference is scrambling to catch up. I will say the odds of the two rivals returning to the same league are 50/50 at best but I wouldn’t be surprised (and would be delighted) if the dominoes fell in such a way that the two institutions join forces again in the same league.
4. What are your views on where college football is heading?
LLOYD: It makes me sad even if I can’t say that I find it shocking, unfortunately. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we get by allowing greed to drive the bus. It started with television decisions in the 1980s and continued with the Bowl Alliance, the Bowl Championship Series and the College Football Playoffs. Coaches started getting paid ridiculous sums of money and universities started spending fortunes on football facilities, so it’s no surprise that players have a strong case for their right to get their share. cake. And these conference changes are about trying to be able to get as much money as possible when negotiating TV deals.
I love the game. I love seeing athletes excel physically on the field and academically in the classroom. I love seeing a group of individuals put aside their selfishness to focus on what’s best for the whole team. I love seeing players and programs overcome challenges and grow stronger. I like demonstrations of sportsmanship and altruism. And now I see it all being sacrificed to the almighty dollar and I don’t see that changing. I’m an optimistic person but I think college football is shedding so many of its best features and I don’t know where that will end.
Dickson: I hate him, for several reasons. The very things that make college football unique—regional rivalries, amateurism, program loyalty, Fall Saturday pageantry—are disappearing as programs try to position themselves to be part of the elite. There are currently over 120 teams playing FBS football. If the SEC and the Big Ten are successful, they will form two super conferences with 20 teams each and the other 80 teams can jump into a lake. College football is starting to look more and more like the minor league NFL. Who wants that? The conferences should be disbanded and college football should be organized regionally, which the NFL is right about. Matt Coatney, voice of the Nebraska women’s basketball team, posted on Twitter that the trip from The Rutgers campus in Reykjavik, Iceland (2,636 miles) is shorter than the Rose Bowl (2,759 miles) . Something is wrong with college sports.
5. What do you think the BYU men’s basketball team has done with their roster this offseason?
Dickson: When BYU’s men’s basketball season ended in March, I was a co-host with Ben Criddle on ESPN Sports 960 and said the Cougars were probably going to turn half his roster. Turns out, I’ve been grossly underestimating: Of 17 players listed on BYU’s 2021-22 roster, only six remain. The transfer portal has turned college basketball into a massive game of musical chairs as players seek to leave at the slightest provocation. Didn’t get the game time you think you deserve? To transfer. Courses too hard? To transfer. The coach looks at you strangely? To transfer. I don’t wish any harm on any of these guys who left, but do they really think changing locations is going to solve all their problems? Portal guys coming to BYU face the same problem.
Mark Pope and his team have worked incredibly hard to fill out the 2022-23 roster and it has potential. But many of the new players haven’t even arrived in Provo yet, and the Cougars have already started summer training. Bringing this team together is going to be a major undertaking.
LLOYD: It’s hard to know for sure to what extent the current BYU hoops ride approach is due to players being unable to resist the perception that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and to what extent extent the coaching staff pursues the birds. the bush and not focus on what they have in their hands (how’s that for mixing metaphors?). I know one thing: I don’t think it works. During his time as head coach at UVU and BYU, Mark Pope brought in talented transfer players from across the country. But how many great teams has he had? I would say he had one: the 2020 Cougar team whose season ended with the COVID-19 pandemic. And the majority of contributors to this team were non-transfers. Hmm, could there be a correlation here? For me, basketball is a game that relies on skill, the ability to dribble, pass, shoot, screen and play defense. But real elite teams also have a clear idea of who they want to be and make everyone buy into the team concept. That’s what Mark Few has done probably better than anyone in the country in the last five or ten years at Gonzaga. Pope needs to get that core identity and focus on player development over two or three years to get the most out of it. I truly believe this would lead to more consistent performance and better overall records.